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Organized Chaos! - Behind the scenes details about the Improv Everywhere experience
Written By: Kelly Calabrese
Ever take your pants off for a subway ride?
Sounds crazy but every year this phenomenon actually happens as members of Improv Everywhere take part in a mission called The No Pants! Subway Ride, which started as a small prank with seven guys and has grown into an international celebration of silliness.
Founded by Charlie Todd in August of 2001, Improv Everywhere causes chaos and joy in public places and you don't always have to take your pants off. The group has pulled off over 100 different missions (such as The MP3 Experiment and The Human Mirror), involving tens of thousands of undercover agents while clearly proving that a prank doesn't have to involve humiliation or embarrassment; it can simply be about making someone laugh, smile or stop to notice the world around them.
To learn more about this international phenomenon, NYCastings tracked down the master of chaos…
Q & A with Improv Everywhere founder, Charlie Todd:
Q: For an actor - what doesthe Improv Everywhere experience offer?
Improv Everywhere really started as a way for me to act. I was 22 and new to New York, and I could tell the road to getting stage time would be a long one. So I started staging performances in public places as means to express myself and exercise my acting muscles. I think performing in an Improv Everywhere mission has some benefits to actors. It teaches you to think on your feet, to stay in character in situations where it's not so easy and to work well with an ensemble.
Q: Are there any conflicts with unions since the events do get filmed?
Q: You come up with an idea and then see how it plays out. Is there ever a hoped for arc to the event? A hoped for beginning, middle, end - a story it will tell?
Q: You recently appeared on The Apprentice as an event expert - how did that gig come about?
The producers of the show emailed me and asked if I'd like to it.
Q: Are you ever surprised by what happens during these events or the public's reactions?
Q: Were you influenced by any of the dare devils, pranksters, magicians, or Jack Asses of the entertainment world?
Q: What interesting insights do these events giveabout humanity?
Q: You have a book about Improv Everywhere "Causing a Scene" - what do you hope the book offers readers?
Q: For anyone looking to start a cultural phenomenon such as Improv Everywhere - how hard is that journey? What does it take?
Q: How can NYCastings members get involved?
If you live in the NYC area and want to participate in our events, sign up for our New York mailing list on our Mailing Lists page.
Our smaller missions are usually limited to those who have been with the group for long periods of time, but there are a couple of opportunities each year to get involved with our larger missions. No experience is required, just a desire to have fun and an ability to keep a straight face.
Q: If a NYCastings member has an idea for a mission, should they send it to you?
Yes! Many of our greatest conquests have come from ideas from other people. Feel free to email us your ideas. Contact us here. Please remember that we have been doing this since 2001 and probably have thought of the idea or had it sent to us already by someone else. That said, no harm in sending one in. It may wind up being the inspiration for our next great mission. I read every idea that is sent to me, though due to the volume of email I do not have time to respond to most.
Q: On the grandest of scales - where do you hope 'Everywhere' will take you? (A film? TV Show? Mission on Pluto?)
We made a television pilot in 2007 that wasn't picked up, but it was fun to make. I may pursue that again at some point, but honestly right now I'm happy to be working independently and sharing our ideas with the world on YouTube. When space travel becomes affordable I will totally prank Pluto.
Thank you Charlie Todd for giving us a glimpse into your organized chaos.
For more information visit www.improveverywhere.com
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